Answers To Your Workers' Comp & Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
Doubt, uncertainty, and confusion can quickly cause painful situations to escalate into catastrophic traumas. Personal experience has taught us that when an accident victim allows his concerns to overwhelm his determination for justice, he neither gets relief nor justice. This is why we feel that getting answers to your injury questions are extremely important not only to relieve stress, but also to build a stronger injury claim. Allow us to address your concerns and come see for yourself how a simple answer can make a difference.
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What workers' compensation benefits are available in Georgia for a permanent disability?
After an on-the-job accident, Georgia workers' compensation provides medical and partial wage replacement benefits to help injured workers recover and return to the workforce.
Unfortunately, while many people make a full recovery, others are left with permanent disabilities that threaten to keep them out of work indefinitely.
If this happened to you, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, which are available once temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) payments stop. Rather than compensation for lost wages, PPD benefits are intended to compensate workers for the loss of a body part, loss of use of a body part, or impairment of the body as a whole.
PPD benefits are paid weekly, based on the type and extent of your permanent disability, as rated by your authorized treating physician, using the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Your doctor's rating determines, by body part, how long you can receive PPD benefits, which are two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
For example, the maximum number of weeks you can receive PPD benefits for the following injuries are:
- 20 weeks for the loss of a small toe
- 30 weeks for the loss of the big toe
- 25 weeks for the loss of a little finger
- 30 weeks for the loss of a ring finger
- 35 weeks for the loss of a middle finger
- 60 weeks for the loss of a thumb
- 75 weeks for the traumatic loss of hearing in one ear
- 135 weeks for the loss of a foot
- 150 weeks for the traumatic loss of hearing in both ears
- 150 weeks for the loss of vision of one eye
- 160 weeks for the loss of a hand
- 225 weeks for the loss of an arm or leg
- 300 weeks for disability to the body as a whole
Additionally, some permanent disabilities—such as neck or back impairment—are evaluated as disability to the whole body.
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Georgia Workers' Comp Attorney
If you have a permanent disability after a workplace accident, let Rechtman & Spevak's skilled workers' compensation attorneys help you fight for the PPD benefits you deserve. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation consultation.
I've been charged with shoplifting. Could I benefit from a pretrial intervention program?
Yes. If this is your first time being charged with a crime—or you've been previously charged and convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses—a pretrial intervention program could minimize the damage a shoplifting charge or conviction could have on your future.
In Georgia, the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), which is also known as the Pretrial Diversion Program, allows you to avoid going to trial in exchange for paying fines, doing community service, and meeting other conditions.
If you complete the diversion program successfully, the shoplifting charges are dropped and won't appear on your record—although it will still show up in searches conducted by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges. You won't have to worry about the cost and pitfalls of a trial, or having to explain a criminal record during a job interview.
While completing a PTI can be extremely beneficial if you're facing charges for shoplifting, most criminal defendants don't know about them—and most prosecutors aren't going to tell them. You need a knowledgeable, experienced, and trial-savvy criminal defense attorney to review your case, determine if you're eligible for a pretrial program, and then help you apply to participate in one.
A skilled defense attorney can also help you understand and comply with the terms of your program. This is absolutely vital to your case, as failure to successfully complete a diversion program gives the prosecutor a green light to move forward with the original charges against you.
Consult Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Made a mistake or found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time? A shoplifting charge shouldn't have to destroy your future. Participating in a pretrial program may be the best way to mitigate potential consequences of this unfortunate incident. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation to discuss your case with our top-notch defense lawyer, Dantel D. Ruiz.
What consequences could I face if I'm convicted of a domestic violence charge in Georgia?
Family violence crimes are considered serious offenses in the Peach State. As a result, if you're charged with committing certain criminal acts against protected family or household members, you could face significant, wide-ranging, and long-lasting consequences upon conviction.
In Georgia, crimes like simple battery, battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, and other felonies can be charged as domestic violence offenses when committed between:
- Current or former spouses
- Parents and children
- Parents who share a child
- Stepparents and stepchildren
- Foster parents and foster children
- Other current or former household members
Penalties for Georgia domestic violence convictions may include:
- Fines of up to several thousand dollars, depending on whether it's a first or subsequent offense
- Jail time of one year for an initial offense, or up to five years in prison for subsequent offenses, which are considered felonies
You could also face:
- Loss of parental rights. A domestic violence conviction could count against you in a future custody proceeding, or result in your parenting time being reduced or supervised.
- Employment issues. Having a domestic violence conviction on your record can severely limit your future employment opportunities.
- Loss of gun rights. Under federal law, a domestic violence conviction may prohibit you from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition.
Being convicted of a family violence charge can negatively impact nearly every aspect of your personal and professional life. Additionally, criminal penalties for domestic violence convictions are often much harsher than those imposed in cases where similar crimes were committed by individuals who didn't have a familial or domestic relationship with the victim. Even worse, the collateral consequences of a family violence conviction can continue to haunt you long after your sentence is complete. Fortunately, a strong criminal defense can help protect your future.
Schedule a Consultation
There's far too much at stake to go it alone. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz.
I've been charged with a misdemeanor. How can you help me?
Misdemeanors won't send you to prison, but they can still lead to significant consequences such as fines, jail time, and stringent probation requirements.
When you're facing misdemeanor charges in Georgia, you need a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney who has a strong grasp of the relevant legal statutes, as well as a keen understanding of jurisdictional “unwritten rules” such as knowing which prosecutors are most amenable to plea agreements,
and which judges allow work release or weekend jail.
There's a lot a skilled attorney can do for you. In short, defense attorneys examine cases to identify unique elements; develop and present strong arguments against conviction; and help clients navigate the criminal justice system. They also present mitigating information to reduce fines, jail time, and other penalties in case of conviction.
Here are just a few of the many things our adept Atlanta defense attorney can do when you hire Rechtman & Spevak to represent you:
- Investigate the case, including gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses
- Assess the prosecutor's case against you
- Review your criminal history (if any), and work to understand your personal situation and goals for the case
- Assess the potential sentences you're facing
- Explore your eligibility for special courts or sentencing programs
- Review police reports, as well as dash cam and body cam videos
- Review search and seizure procedures
- Question the way your arrest was made
- Challenge the evidence chain of custody or reliability of a breathalyzer test (older models may have higher fail rates)
- Negotiate reduced charges or a plea deal
- Negotiate reduced bail and more reasonable release conditions
- Negotiate reduced sentences
Consult a Seasoned Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney
If you're facing probation, fines, or jail time, you need an attorney who's familiar with Georgia's criminal statutes and court process to advocate for you each and every step of the way. Fortunately, you've come to the right firm. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a private consultation to find out what we can do for you and your case.
What is Georgia's marijuana-specific first offender statute and how might it apply to my misdemeanor drug possession case?
The Georgia First Offenders Act (FOA) allows individuals charged with certain crimes to plead guilty or no contest, and have the offense removed from their official criminal record after they've successfully completed their sentence. Sentences in these cases may include probation, fees, jail time, or a combination thereof. If you've never been convicted of a felony in any state or sentenced as a first offender, you may be eligible for sentencing under the FOA.
Additionally, if you're a first-time offender who's charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, you may qualify for a conditional discharge. Like sentencing under the FOA, a conditional discharge makes it possible for your charges to be dismissed once you've completed your sentence—which in this case may include probation, fines, community service, drug screenings, and risk reduction courses.
However, inclusion in Georgia's alternative plea and sentencing programs isn't automatic. You need a skilled Atlanta defense attorney to:
- Convince the judge that you qualify.
- Determine whether you should ask to be sentenced as a first offender or request a conditional discharge.
- Help ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of your sentence.
Requests for FOA sentencing or conditional discharge are made early in the case process—before you enter a plea—and granted at the judge's discretion. Denials can't be appealed. Having a knowledgeable attorney with a firm grasp of the relevant laws and the specific facts of your case is absolutely essential.
A capable defense attorney can also help make sure that you don't waste your opportunity for FOA sentencing on a misdemeanor drug crime when asking for conditional discharge may be more appropriate and beneficial. They can also advise you on how to comply with the terms of your sentence to avoid the risk of having your alternative plea revoked.
Consult an Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney
Find out how Rechtman & Spevak's seasoned criminal defense attorney, Dantel D. Ruiz, can help your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
What if I'm injured in a truck crash caused by a drowsy or ill trucker?
If you were hurt in a truck crash caused by a fatigued or sick commercial driver during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be an inadvertent victim of a plan to increase the availability of vital medical equipment, providers, and other necessary items.
Since February 2020, medical facilities throughout the country have struggled to maintain adequate personnel, equipment, and protective supplies.
Grocery stores, too, have worked diligently trying to keep shelves stocked.
On March 13, 2020, in response to the nationwide shortage of supplies and personnel, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the agency in charge of regulating interstate trucking industry in the United States—announced the suspension of its Hours-of-Service safety regulations for commercial drivers carrying specified goods or medical personnel.
Prior to the suspension, the rules limited cargo-carrying truckers to 14-hour shifts with no more than 11 consecutive driving hours, following a 10-hour rest period. Commercial drivers tasked with transporting passengers were permitted to drive for 10 consecutive hours if followed by eight hours of rest. These restrictions were temporarily lifted for some drivers. While this may help important supplies get where they're needed faster, it also increases the risk of serious truck accidents.
The FMCSA developed and implemented the driving time limitations in an attempt to prevent the exhaustingly long shifts that can lead to drowsiness and in turn, cause horrific truck crashes. Now, with drivers working longer hours and feeling more pressure than ever to make good time on their routes, some truckers abandon safety practices designed to protect everyone on the road.
Additionally, due to their extensive travel, commercial truck drivers may also be exposed to the coronavirus. Should they become ill, they could get extremely sick, extremely fast, further increasing the risk of an accident. Some COVID-19 patients experience waking hallucinations, which contributes an extra layer of potential danger.
We Can Help You Fight for Fair Damages
A commercial bus or truck driver's status as an essential worker doesn't prevent them from being held responsible for injuries and other damages caused by their negligence. If you were hurt in a truck crash caused by a drowsy, distracted, or ill driver, the adept truck accident attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak will review your case, and help you understand your legal rights and options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.
Am I covered by Georgia workers' compensation if I'm injured while working remotely?
As the number of people working remotely rises, so does the number of people injured while doing so. Many employees in Georgia question whether the state's workers' comp system will provide benefits for a work injury that they sustained off-site.
Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to that question, as it depends heavily on the facts of your particular case. Here's what you need to know.
Remote workers are covered by Georgia's workers' compensation law. In fact, the same rules apply to employees regardless of whether they work in the office or at a remote location, which means that:
- The injury must occur during your work-related activities. If you sustained the injury while carrying out the duties of your job, it should be covered. However, if you were hurt while doing something unrelated to work, the injury likely won't qualify you for benefits, even if it happened during your scheduled work hours.
- The injury might not be covered if it happened on your lunch break. Injuries that occur during an employee's official or scheduled breaks aren't covered by Georgia workers' compensation.
- The injury might be covered if it occurred while entering or leaving the remote workplace. Also known as ingress and egress, employees in The Peach State are covered by workers' comp.
Those aren't the only issues you'll have to consider. Your job duties and the severity of your condition also play an important role in determining which workers' compensation benefits you could receive. For example, if your injuries restrict you to light-duty work, but the work you're performing remotely is already light-duty tasks, you may not be entitled to income benefits, as you'll be able to continue working.
Consult Our Skilled Georgia Workers' Comp Attorneys
The only real way to know whether the injuries you sustained while working remotely might be covered by workers' compensation is to consult a knowledgeable attorney. Fortunately, you've found the right firm. At Rechtman & Spevak, our adept workers' comp lawyers have helped countless Georgians obtain the benefits they deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
If I refuse light duty work, can my employer say I voluntarily abandoned my job?
After a job-related injury, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including temporary total disability (TTD) payments if you're completely unable to work for a period of time. However, your employer and its workers' comp insurer will likely want you to return to work as soon as possible so that it can stop paying you these benefits.
To that end, your employer may offer a light duty position that allows you to work within the limitations set by the doctor who's treating your injuries.
Georgia law requires your employer to draft a written description of this new light duty job, and send it to your doctor for approval. Sometimes, even when a physician approves your return to light duty, you may not feel ready or able to go back to work. How you handle this situation can have a lasting impact on your ability to continue to collect TTD benefits.
Generally, it's best to at least attempt the offered light duty position. If you refuse to even try, your employer may fire you or claim you voluntarily abandoned your position, which could cause your TTD payments to stop. That's the last thing you want—which is why it's essential to contact an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney if you feel you're being sent back to work before you're physically ready.
A workers' comp lawyer can help you understand your rights, including how to get TTD benefits reinstated if you try the light duty position, but are unable to continue performing the job.
Consult a Skilled Georgia Attorney About Your Workers' Comp Claim
At Rechtman & Spevak, our accomplished attorneys help injured workers protect their rights and fight for the workers' compensation benefits they deserve. If you were offered light duty work, but don't feel you're capable of performing the job asked of you, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your legal rights and options, and how to avoid being terminated and having your income benefits stopped.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected workers' comp claims for warehouse workers in Georgia?
Not only have warehouse and distribution center workers been deemed essential by the state of Georgia under the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, but there is also a demand for more workers to staff these services. Warehouse and fulfillment center workers were overworked and suffering high rates of injury before the COVID-19 outbreak, so it’s likely they will struggle even more with debilitating injuries during the crisis. These workers are entitled to Georgia workers’ comp benefits if they are unable to work because of a workplace injury, but the process of applying has been complicated by closed offices and unprecedented circumstances.
Warehouse Workers Face Hazardous Conditions in Ordinary Times
As non-essential workers across Georgia are ordered to stay home during the pandemic, many are turning to delivery for the groceries and other goods they need. This has placed a heavy burden on online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.
In order to stock their warehouses and fulfill orders, the companies have passed that burden on to workers. Amazon didn’t have a great safety record before the crisis, and workers often experienced serious back injuries, traumatic brain injury, sprains, strains, and repetitive stress injuries caused by:
- Falling objects
- Lifting and carrying heavy objects
- Stretching and twisting to reach objects
- Repetitive motions, such as loading boxes and stocking shelves
- Forklift accidents
Now that warehouse employees are working longer hours, filling more orders, taking on unfamiliar duties, and working with inexperienced new-hires, injuries are even more likely than they were before. However, just like before the pandemic, Georgia workers are entitled to file for workers’ comp benefits if they are unable to work due to an on-the-job injury.
Filing a New Claim for Georgia Workers’ Compensation
If you are injured at work in a warehouse, do not hesitate to pursue workers’ comp. New claims are being accepted, but the process may be more complicated than it was before. Regardless, you should first report the injury to your manager and then get medical treatment. You can see any doctor the first time if it is an emergency, but after that, you will need to see a doctor from your employer’s panel of physicians, if you can get an appointment. At this time, you may only be able to get a telephone consultation.
Even if you do get a consultation, you probably won’t be able to follow through on all of the treatment recommendations. You can and should still file a claim with Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation and send copies to your employer and their insurance company. It’s hard to say how quickly things will move after that. However, you can make sure you are doing all you can to get the compensation you deserve by talking to one of our workers’ compensation attorneys before filing a claim. In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to have an advocate on your side to protect your rights.
People Currently Collecting Workers’ Comp May Also Have Problems
If you are currently collecting Georgia workers’ comp, you will also face some challenges. You might not be able to get the treatment you need to recover from your injury, which will affect your recovery timeline. If your light-duty assignment was eliminated, you might now need income benefits. While all hearings have been postponed due to judicial order, some workers’ comp issues are still being resolved by judges via teleconference. Now is the time to consult our experienced legal team to find out what you should do to protect your benefits.
Call Us to Today for Honest Answers to Your Questions
As a warehouse worker, you probably never thought of yourself as an essential member of the community before. Now, however, thousands of people depend on you to get the supplies they need to comply with Governor Kemp’s order. We want you to know that the lawyers and staff at Rechtman & Spevak are available to help you with your legal matters. We are offering free virtual consultations via video conference in lieu of in-person meetings, and we are also accessible through e-mail, text, and phone. If you have a question about a new or existing workers’ comp claim, please reach out to us as soon as possible.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Georgia workers’ comp claims for nurses and first responders?
Healthcare workers on the front lines have always risked their own health and safety to help the patients who need them. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, nurses and first responders are at greater risk than they have ever been. Both of these groups of essential workers are at high risk for a workplace injury, but what options do they have if they can no longer work because of an injury? We take a look at the current status of Georgia workers’ compensation for healthcare workers on the front lines.
Filing a New Claim for Workers’ Compensation
First things first: if you are a nurse or first responder who was injured on the job, don’t be afraid to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation. New claims are being processed; however, you will face some challenges.
After reporting the injury to your employer, you need to get medical treatment. If it is an emergency, you can see any doctor but, otherwise, you will need to see a doctor from your employer’s panel of physicians. During the COVID-19 crisis, you might not be able to get an appointment with one of these doctors, or if you do, it may only be a telephone consultation. Even if you do get a consultation, you probably won’t be able to follow through on all of the treatment recommendations.
You can and should still file a claim with Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation and send copies to your employer and their insurance company. How quickly things move after that is anyone’s guess right now.
However, you can make sure you are doing all you can to get the compensation you deserve by talking to one of our workers’ compensation attorneys. Now more than ever, it’s important to have an advocate on your side to protect your rights.
What If You Have an Existing Claim?
If you are currently collecting workers’ comp, you will also face some challenges. You might not be able to get the treatment you need to recover from your injury, which will affect your recovery timeline. Your light-duty assignment may have been eliminated, and you now need income benefits. While all hearings have been postponed by judicial order, some workers’ comp issues are still still being resolved via teleconference with the judges. Now is the time to consult our experienced legal team to find out what you should do to protect your benefits.
What Risks do Nurses and First Responders Face During the Pandemic?
The work that nurses, EMTs, police officers, and firefighters do has always carried risk. These brave men and women willingly take those risks to serve the public. However, they are facing even greater dangers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Nurses. In ordinary times, many nurses experience repetitive stress injuries, slip and falls, exertion injuries, chronic back pain, needle pricks, and exposure to infectious disease. In the current crisis, hospitals are understaffed, and nurses are working longer hours and dealing with increased patient loads. Many nurses have been called to work outside of their normal areas of expertise at Emory Healthcare, Northside Hospital, or Piedmont Healthcare, and their inexperience puts them at risk. Exhaustion, exposure to the coronavirus, unprecedented death rates, and the lack of clear procedures have created an incredibly stressful environment for Atlanta nurses, increasing the likelihood of a serious injury or occupational disease.
- First responders. Typical causes of injury for first responders normally include violent attacks, vehicle accidents, exertion, exposure to toxins and infectious disease, and hazardous surroundings. As most of us are asked to stay home to stay safe, first responders are required to risk their lives responding to emergencies. EMTs working for companies such as Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service are at high risk for contracting the coronavirus as well as sustaining other serious injuries.
If you are an essential worker on the front lines of this crisis, we are here to help.
Call Rechtman & Spevak With Your Questions
We applaud the work our nurses and first responders are doing—you are our heroes during this uncertain time. We want you to know that the lawyers and staff at Rechtman & Spevak are available to help you with your legal matters. We are offering free virtual consultations via video conference in lieu of in-person meetings, and we are also accessible through e-mail, text, and phone. If you have a question about a new or existing workers’ comp claim, please reach out to us as soon as possible.